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Thursday, July 4, 2013
Burnt Orange Breakdown: Dalton Santos

By Carter Strickland

During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 55 Dalton Santos
Sophomore linebacker

Expectations for 2013: Santos appears as if he has wrestled away control of the middle linebacker spot from Steve Edmond. The sophomore is much more of a natural leader than Edmond and started to step up in the latter part of his true freshman year. Santos should be able to stabilize what was a horrendous defense in 2012. While he does have the tendency to overpursue, Santos, now a year older, should have the experience and mental ability to better judge where he needs to go and when. Santos also shed 20 pounds in order to make himself a better sideline-to-sideline player. This could be a huge help as teams in the Big 12 continue to spread things out and force defenses to play in space.

Best-case scenario for 2013: Santos is a talker and a leader. And this team is in need of both. But his play has to match his mouth. It did during the Alamo Bowl as Santos gave a fore and brimstone speech before the game and then went and had a career-high six tackles including one for a loss in the Texas win. If that continues to happen this could be a defense that comes together very quickly. Santos is going to be a player that holds each player accountable for his job and that is what Texas is in desperate need of. Santos should approach 100 tackles and with his added quickness be able to become a force in the backfield. He has the upper body strength to shed blockers and get to the ball with efficiency.

Worst-case scenario for 2013: Santos has not locked up the middle linebacker spot and if this position remains in flux it could be a disruption for the defense. Similarly there could be a divide among the defensive players if Santos is not selected at that spot. That is not to say that Edmond is not popular or bring significant skills. It’s just that Santos is the type of player that others rally around. So Texas needs to make a decision and then the player who selected needs to not falter. If there is flip-flopping it could be very costly for the defense.

Future expectations: This will be Santos’ defense very soon. He probably does not have the maturity or the experience to carry it in 2013. But by 2014 he should be an unquestioned leader and playing every down for Texas.